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Physical Education in Denmark 








The first school in Denmark to introduce formal instruction 
in bodily exercises was the private one of Court Chaplain 
'Christiani in Vesterbro, Copenhagen, opened in May, 1795, 
in accordance with philanthropinistic ideals and with active 
games in the program from the start. In the spring of 1799, at 
Christiani's invitation, Franz Nachtegall* became the teacher 
of gymnastics and made it methodical, following the Guts- 
Muths manual of 1793 as a guide, f and using an open space pro- 
vided with apparatus. In the fall of 1799 he also introduced 
gymnastics in the rival school of Schouboe, and on November 
5, in the yard of No. 45 0stergade, using also the yard of the 
Schouboe school on Saturday afternoons, opened a private 
school of gymnastics, intended especially for children the first 
institution in modern Europe which had physical education as 

*Vivat Victorius Fredericus Nachtegall Franz Nachtegall, he called 
himself the son of a tailor, Conrad Nachtegall, and Cathrine (Castler) 
Nachtegall, was born in Copenhagen October 3, 1777, and died May 12, 
1847. He received his preliminary training in the Schouboe private 
school, and in 1794 began the study of theology at the university. The 
death of his father prevented him from taking the final examination for 
his degree and threw upon him the support of an invalid mother. He 
had taken lessons in fencing and vaulting from the old French fencing 
master Embs, and soon acquired ' ' v in both arts, but especially the 
latter. The readin & of GutsMuUis's "Gymnastik fur die Jugend" 
(Schnepfenthal, 1793) led him to begin teaching gymnastics, first to some 
students in his own home, and then, early in 1798, to a gymnastic club of 
university students and tradesmen which he organized and directed. 

fAn abridged translation of this book, by V. K. Hjort, curate at 
Holmens Kirke, was published in Copenhagen in 1799 ("Kort Anviisning 
til Legemsevelser. Et Udtog af GutsMuths Gymnastik. Udgivet paa 
Dansk af V. K. Hjort. Kiebenhavn 1799. Paa Hofboghandler S. 
Poulsens Forlag." The preface is dated July 11.) 

its sole object.* As his work developed Nachtegall turned over 
the actual teaching at the Christiani and Schouboe schools to 
former pupils of his, retaining only the general oversight. In 
1801 a public elementary (charity) school, Frue Arbejdskole, 
introduced gymnastics, Nachtegall himself and later a pupil of 
his doing the teaching, and girls as well as boys taking part in 
the exercises. In 1802 the practice was taken up at a second 
charity school (Opfostringshuset), and in 1803 at two others of 
the same sort (Nikolaj and Bredgades Fattigskoler) and in 
Efterslaegtens Skole. By 1805 instruction in gymnastics was 
being given in nine of the Copenhagen schools. 

During the years 1802 -1804 Nachtegall and Cand. theol. (later 
Bishop) P. H. Menster, who had completed a course in gym- 
nastics with Nachtegall, gave courses of lectures on the method 
and history of gymnastics. Among their auditors were univer- 
sity students, military men, and all the pupils at Blaagaard Sem- 
inarium (Teachers' College). February 3, 1804, King Chris- 
tian VII. appointed Nachtegall professor of gymnastics in the 
university, though he never made use of any of the university 
lecture rooms. He now offered to give without charge lectures 
on the theory and method of gymnastics at Blaagaard Semi- 
narium. The offer was accepted, and though attendance was 
voluntary most of the Seminarium pupils took advantage of 
the opportunity and the older ones took part in practical exer- 
cises in the school yard, which had been provided with appara- 
tus. It was used also by children in the model or practice 
school. In 1805 Nachtegall prepared a manual of gymnastics 
for army and navy usef which became a guide for civil teachers 
also, and the Crown Prince had copies distributed to public and 

He had five pupils at the start, 25 by the end of the year, and in the 
winter of 1803-1804 there were 150 pupils, and six teachers whom he had 
himself trained. 1801-1807 the school was located at Ambassaderen 
Gaard in Aabenraa, and in 1804 Nachtegall turned it over to one of his 
pupils, Stud, theol. (later Captain) Johan Christian Thomsen. It was 
visited on August 29 of that year by Dr. Karl August Zeller of Dresden, 
a teacher who had seen the work of GutsMuths at Schnepfenthal and 
whose account of what he saw in Copenhagen is printed in Monatsschrift 
fur das Turnwesen vii: 353-359 (1888, December). 

f'lnstruction i Gymnastikken, for de Leerere som ere ansatte ved 
Kavalleriets og Infanteriets Underofficeer- og Exerceerskoler. Efter bans 
Kongelige Hejhed Kronprindsens Befaling forfattet af F. Nachtegall, 
Professor i Gymnastik." Copenhagen, 1805. 94 pages. 

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private schools. The next year Nachtegall began to send out 
teachers of gymnastics. Stud, theol. Johan Christian Thomsen 
and Cand. theol. Carl Christoffer Gotzsche had received in- 
struction under him, and May 30 and 31 and June 2, 1806, sub- 
mitted to a public examination in theory, practice, and actual 
conduct of a class, before a board of six members provided by 
a decree of Crown Prince Frederick. Thomsen, who was teacher 
at the Schouboe school and the naval academy (Sekadetakade- 
miet), gave up theology and took over Nachtegall' s private school 
of gymnastics. Later in the same year (1806) two Seminarister \ 
N. Petersen and Christensen, also took an examination of the 
same sort, under Nachtegall in the presence of public officials 
( Censorer) , with a view to giving instruction in gymnastics in 
elementary schools. Meanwhile Nachtegall continued his teach- 
ing at Blaagaard Seminarium, and at the request of the school 
authorities had worked out a plan for obligatory instruction in 
the theory and practice of gymnastics there, followed by an ex- 
amination at the end of the course. He was also to prepare a 
manual which should serve as a basis of instruction, and later as 
a handbook for use in the schools where graduates were em- 
ployed. But when the plan was ready, in 1808, war* and 
stringent times made a postponement necessary, though the 
voluntary lessons went on as before. 

The same year, 1808, saw other provision made for the train- 
ing of teachers, however, thanks to the interest of Crown Prince 
Frederick in Nachtegall' s work an interest roused by his first 
unexpected visit to the private school of gymnastics in 1800 and 
interrupted only by his death, December 3, 1839. It was with 
his assistance that the yard in Aabenraa had been purchased in 
1801, t and he attended the first four annual exhibitions there. 

"The British landed an army about ten miles north of Copenhagen 
August 16, 1807, and captured that city and the Danish fleet in Sep- 
tember. Denmark now became an ally of Napoleon, and by the Treaty 
of Kiel, January 14, 1814, was punished by the loss of Norway to Sweden. 

fThe equipment at Aabenraa was destroyed during the British bom- 
bardment of September 2-5, 1807. Nachtegall now tried repeatedly, but 
in vain, to secure a suitable site fronting the harbor between Lange- and 
Knippelsbro, but was obliged to be content (1809) with a smaller and less 
desirable spot at the corner of 0stergade and Kristenbernikovstraede. 
The next year, with the King's approval, he was able to purchase 
property at No. 108 paa 0sterbro, which had been used by a calico- 

He saw at once the value of gymnastics for the soldier, and from 
this time forth a part of Nachtegall's time and energy was 
diverted from the schools to the service of the military and naval 
forces of the state. In 1801 and the years immediately follow- 
ing Nachtegall became successively teacher of gymnastics at 
the naval academy (Sekadet-Akademi), the military academy 
(Landkadet-Akademi), and the Kgl. Artillerikadet-Institut, 
reaching thus the men who were to become Danish and Norwe- 
gian officers on land and sea. He also taught (1804 -1808) in the 
Copenhagen schools for non-commissioned officers. August 25, 
1804, a training school for teachers of gymnastics in the army (det 
milit&re gymnastiske Institut*) was organized, with Nachtegall 

printing establishment, and here in 1814 Thomsen was succeeded, as head 
of the private school, by Captain Hansen. In 1826 the school was located 
in State Councillor Rosenkilde's yard on Kongens Nytorv. 

*At first two hours a day were allotted to instruction of non-commis- 
sioned army officers and the number of pupils was between 60 and 70. 
In 1809 he was asked to train teachers for the navy also. The courses, 
embracing both theory and practice, extended over three years, and 
closed with an examination. In obedience to the wish of the Crown 
Prince, Nachtegall undertook the preparation of a manual of gymnastics 
for use in the army the one of 1805, already referred to, followed by 
others in 1819, 1821, and 1837. [In 1819: "Reglement for Rekrutternes 
gymnastiske Dannelse i den Danske Armees Exerceerskoler saavelsom 
for de Dele af Gymnastikken, hvori det tjenstgjerende Mandskab i 
Fremtiden skal aves" (Copenhagen, 139 pages); in 1821: "Reglement for 
den gymnastiske Underviisning ved Regimenternes og Corpsernes Under- 
viisnings-Anstalter for Underofficerer og Spillerruend, samt ved Land- 
Etatens militaire Caserne- eller Drengeskoler" (Copenhagen, 78 pages); 
in 1837: "Reglement for Underviisning i Gymnastik og de dermed fore- 
nede Vaabenevelser i den danske Armee" (Copenhagen, 223 pages). 
The manual of 1805 is the only one of the series which bears Nachtegall' s 
name on the title-page.] In 1806-1807, with the assistance of a grant 
from the royal treasury, he visited bathing establishments in Germany 
and Russia, and studied the instruction given in fencing, vaulting, and 
swimming in France, and in Italy the methods of the Bernardi system 
of swimming. The length of the course was reduced from three to two 
years in 1815, and the next year there were only twelve pupils. Nachte- 
gall now gave up the actual teaching to Captain Hansen, although he 
retained the general supervision and was given the title of Overinspekttr 
(Inspector-General), with the duty of overseeing the instruction in gym- 
nastics given in the army and at the military schools (he no longer taught 
at the military academies). The school was removed at the same time 
(1816) to Kronprinsessegadens barrack. Two years later short courses, 
of only three or four months' duration, were added to meet the need of 

as its first director (1804-1842). Until 1828 it had no quarters 
of its own, and for the first twelve years was accommodated at 
his private school. 

The step in question was taken when a royal edict of August 
1, 1808, founded a training school for civilian teachers of gym- 
nastics (det civile gymnastiske Laererinstitut), intended es- 
pecially to meet the needs of the elementary or common schools 
( Almueskoler) . For a yearly payment of 300 rix-dollars Nach- 
tegall was to give free instruction to persons in civil life who 
showed special liking and aptitude for gymnastics, and in par- 
ticular to pupils sent from out-of-town teachers' colleges (Sem- 
inarier), in order that these in turn might teach the new subject 
in the schools. Pupils from other educational institutions, also, 
might be sent to him, but the total number was not to exceed 60 
to 70. Nachtegall was to provide the apparatus, and he was at 
the same time freed from supervision of the schools for non-com- 
missioned officers in Copenhagen. In a circular of September 
3, 1808, all the Seminarier were officially notified of the arrange- 
ment. The new institution was therefore to be to the schools 
and the people what the military gymnastic institute was for the 
army; but it was not an independent school, it merely meant that 
civilians were to be admitted to courses in the military institute, 
and both training schools utilized the grounds and equipment, 
and in part the teaching force, of Nachtegall 's private school. 
Not many persons outside the teaching profession made use of 
the opportunity thus offered, but a succession of pupils came up 
from the Seminarier to the Institute, where they were lodged 

non-commissioned officers capable of conducting the gymnastic exercises 
of their companies. After twelve years of wandering about, in barracks, 
at Gjethuset, and finally back again in the quarters of the private school, 
now on Kongens Nytorv, the "Military Institute" was able to occupy its 
own building at Selvgadens barrack early in 1828, where it has remained 
ever since. The next year, at the completion of its first quarter-century, 
the title "royal" was added toils name ("det kongelige militaere gym- 
nastiske Institut"). The present name, Hcerens Gymnastikskole, dates 
from 1867. The list of Directors is as follows: 

1. Franz Nachtegall (1777-1847) 1804-1842. 

2. Col. Niels Georg la Cour (1797-1876) 1842-1867. 

3. Lieut. Col. Julius Amsinck (1833-1902) 1867-1885. 

4. Capt. Ludvig Viktor Schleppegrell (1846-1892) 1885-1892. 

5. Capt. Harald Axel Hilarius-Kalkau (1852- ) 1892-1902. 

6. Capt. Hans Henrik Hondo (1860- ) 1902-1912. 

7. Capt. Kai Justus Sigismund Ulrich (1866- ) 1912- 

and given not only free instruction but in addition the sum of 
sixteen rix-dollars a month for food and clothing. The usual 
length of the course was 15 to 18 months, though the first pupil 
was graduated in August of 1809. By 1814 the civilian train- 
ing school, caught in the stress of hard times, had ceased to ex- 
ist. Meanwhile a total of only 31 students had completed its 
course, but 10 of these went out to occupy positions at Semi- 
narttr, and so became in turn the instructors of other teach- 

The disastrous results of collisions between Denmark and 
Great Britain during the Napoleonic wars (1801-1814) and the 
economic distress which followed the loss of Norway (1814) 
made the period 1809-1825 an unfavorable one for educational 
reforms, and yet the efforts of the Danish government to intro- 
duce gymnastics into the curriculum of the schools did not stop 
altogether with provision for the training of teachers. An ordi- 
nance of November 7, 1809, stated in general that grammar or 
secondary schools ("de laerde Skoler") should furnish instruc- 
tion in gymnastics "when and where it was possible" to do so. 
In the school code of 1814 gymnastics was made an, integral 
part of the course for boys in all elementary schools (Folke- 
skoler) nearly three decades before any other European coun- 
try took such action (Prussia in 1842). Wherever the teacher 
possessed the requisite ability he was to give his pupils a daily 
lesson in gymnastics, outside of schoql hours proper, and for 
this purpose every school must have the necessary apparatus 
and an outdoor space of 800-1200 Alen (3200-4800 square feet). 
At the Seminarier gymnastics became a required subject under 
the regulations of 1818, and in 1821 Nachtegall was appointed 
Gymnastikdirektyr (Director of Gymnastics), with oversight of 
both civil and military gymnastics throughout the state. But 
with here and there a notable exception, the result of so much 
favorable legislation left much to be desired. Teachers were 
most of them without training, hard times interfered with the 
purchase of grounds and apparatus, and appreciation of the im- 
portance of school gymnastics as a pedagogical measure was by 
no means general. 

Beginning with the middle twenties and lasting till the death 
of King Frederick VI. (December 3, 1839) there was some im- 
provement. In Copenhagen itself gymnastics was now intro- 

duced in many public and private schools, and some of the vil- 
lage schools in Copenhagen county took similar action, assisted 
by the government (1826), which desired to see all the schools 
in a single county reached before further state-wide measures 
were attempted. Within a few years this had been accom- 
plished. November 25, 1826, a circular was sent out to the 
school authorities all over Denmark urging them to do what they 
could to favor instruction in gymnastics. In the summer of the 
next year a considerable number of teachers from Copenhagen 
county came to the city for a course in gymnastics. They felt 
the need of some opportunity for practice with children along 
with the instruction they themselves received. At Nachtegall's 
suggestion the King therefore ordered (August 21, 1827) that 
40 to 50 children from one of the public schools should be re- 
ceived at det militare gymnastiske Institut for instruction in gym- 
nastics, and that this public school should establish such rela- 
tions with the Institute that both together would constitute a 
teachers' college which might serve as a normal school of gym- 
nastics (Normalskole for Gymnastikken) , where not only the 
military and civil pupils at the Institute but also teachers in 
public and private schools could have an opportunity to conduct 
classes under supervision. The Normal School, under this new 
arrangement, was opened on January 28, 1828 (at the same 
time the new building of the Institute, at Selvgaden barrack, 
was ready for use), and during that year more than 200 
teachers were in attendance (in 1829 the number was 98, and 
in the years 1831-1836 the attendance was 86, 55, 39, 22, 24, 
and 27, respectively), 160 boys from the Garrison school com- 
ing to the Institute to serve as a model school. In summer 
their place was taken by pupils from charity schools. 

June 25, 1828, the King approved the manual of gymnastics* 

*" Laerebog i Gymnastik for Almue- og Borger-Skolerne i Danmark. 
Kjebenhavn 1828. Trykt hos Andreas Seidelin, Hof- og Universitets- 
Bogtrykker. ' ' 124 pages and 4 folding plates containing 47 figures. A 
German translation was published: "Lehrbuch der Gymnastik fur Volks- 
und Biirger-schulen. Aus den Danischen iibersetzt von C. Kopp, Gym- 
nastiklehrer am Konigl. Schullehrer-Seminar in Tondern, Dannebrogs- 
mann. Mit vier Steindriicken. Tondern 1831. Gedrukt in der Konigl. 
privilegirten Buchdruckerey der Wittvve Forchhammer." viii+104 pages 
and 4 folding plates. Tondern was then a Danish town, but the German 
language was used in the Seminarium. State aid was given toward the 
publication of the book. 


for use in the middle and common schools (Folkeskolerne) on 
which Nachtegall and four other members of a commission ap- 
pointed for the purpose had been at work for a year. This was 
the first book of the sort to be authorized by any European gov- 
ernment. Copies were sent (4000 of them) at the King's ex- 
pense to all Danish schools and school authorities. On the same 
day, June 25, was issued an order which required the immediate 
introduction of instruction in gymnastics in all schools through- 
out the state. A city inspector of gymnastics was appointed in 
Copenhagen, where every child received three lessons a week 
and the teachers were most of them non-commissioned officers. 
It was estimated that by the end of 1830 two thousand elemen- 
tary schools (Almueskoler) were already complying with the or- 
der, and that by the time of the King's death 2500 out of the 
(approximately) 2600 public schools in Denmark were making 
at least some provision for systematic bodily exercise. 

The secondary schools were at first slow to take adequate 
measures, but a special order of September 20, 1831, directed 
that this be done just as soon as circumstances permitted.* 
An administrative order of February 14, 1832, made the intro- 
duction of instruction in gymnastics a necessary condition of 
permission to open any private school for boys. September 
14, 1833, Nachtegall's manual and regulations for secondary 
schoolsf received the King's approval, and it was published the 

*In that year was issued, at public expense, Nachtegall *s report of the 
progress which had been made in Denmark between 1799 and 1830: 
"Gymnastikkens Fremgang i Danmark, fra dens ferste Indferelse i Aaret 
1799 indtil Utgangen af Aaret 1830. Udtogsviis efter de Rapporter, som 
aarligen allerunderdanigst ere forelagte Hans Majestaet Kongen. Ved 
F. Nachtegall, Directeur for Gymnastikken, Professor, Overinspecteur 
ved det Kongelige militiere gymnast iske Institut, ved Normalskolen for 
Gymnastikken, m.m., Ridder af Dannebrogen og Dannebrogsmand. 
Kjebenhavn, Trykt i Thieles Bogtrykkeri. 1831." viii-(-lS2-f-xxiii pages. 

f'Laerebog i Gymnastik til Brug for de laerde Skoler i Danmark. Ved 
F. Nachtegall, Direkteur for og Professor i Gymnastikken; Ridder af , 
Dbr. og Dbm. Kjebenhavn. Trykt i det Poppske Bogtrykkeri. 1834." 
147 pages. Bound with the above: "Regulativ for den gymnastiske 
Underviisning ved de laerde Skoler i Danmark." ii-j-24 pages and 2 
folding plates containing 24 figures of apparatus. Of this book also a 
German translation appeared: "Lehrbuch der Gymnastik zum Gebrauch 
fiir die gelehrte Schulen in Danemark. Von F. Nachtegall, Directeur 
und Professor der Gymnastik, Ritter von Dannebrog und Dannebrogs - 

following year. In 1836 he was sent on a tour of inspection 
among: the Seminarier, to see what was being: done in them 
and to give any needful counsel and suggestions. He found 
the interest in gymnastics general, but lack of sufficient ap- 
paratus in some places and in others faulty methods, and 
therefore arranged to have the teachers of gymnastics at three 
of the Seminarier take a summer course at the Normal School 
in 1837. In obedience to an order of March 7, 1838, he made 
a second tour, primarily to inspect the Latin schools, but took 
advantage of the opportunity to visit the Seminarier again. 

Hitherto it had been boys and young men alone who were 
reached by gymnastics in the schools, but an order of March 
28, 1838, given in response to Nachtegall's proposal, estab- 
lished an experimental school for girls. Thirty pupils, ranging 
in age from six to fifteen years, were selected from among the 
girls at the Garrison school, and beginning in the spring of 
the same year these received three lessons a week from five 
teachers (three sergeants and two women) at the Military Gym- 
nastic Institute, under the general direction of Nachtegall and 
a physician. The success of this experiment suggested a nor-i 
mal school of gymnastics for women (Normalskole for Kvinde- 
gymnastik). An order of February 20, 1839, approved the 
plan, and prescribed that women teachers, and others who 
wished it, should receive an opportunity at the Institute to be- 
come acquainted with methods of teaching, and that the exer- 
cises practiced there and the mode of progression adopted should 
serve as a model for the schools for girls which introduced 
gymnastics. These latter were also put under Nachtegall's 
supervision. The number of pupils at the Normal School now 
increased. In the summer of 1839 lessons in the new sub- 
ject were begun with girls in the royal navy schools (Seetatens 
Skoler) , and many other Copenhagen schools took a similar step. 

After the death of Frederick VI., December 3, 1839, Nachte- 
gall's own efforts (he was now sixty-two years old) began to 
slacken. In 1840 and 1843 he made new tours of inspection 

mann. Aus den Danischen tibersetzt von C. Kopp, Gymnastiklehrer am 
Konigl. Schullehrer-Seminar in Tondern, Dannebrogsmann. Tondern 
1837. Gedruckt in der Konigl. privilegirten Buchdruckerei der Wittwe 
Forchhammer." viii+144 pages. Bound with the above: "Regulativ 
ftir den gymnastischen Unterricht bei den gelehrten Schulen in Dane- 
mark." 22 pages. 


among the Seminarier. In 1842 he turned over to la Cour the 
headship of det kongelige militarc gymnastiske Institut, but con- 
tinued to discharge the duties of Gymnastikdircktyr till his death, 
which occurred May 12, 1847. He is buried at No. F986 in 
Assistents Kirkegaard, Nerrebrogade, Copenhagen.* 

Niels Georg la Cour.f who succeeded Nachtegall as Di- 
rector of Gymnastics in Denmark (1847-1870), met with little 
success in his endeavor to improve conditions. As head of the 

Sources for Nachtegall and his time: 

1. Joakim Larsen, "Gymnastikundervisningen i Danmark paa Nach- 
tegalls Tid (Foredrag ved Gymnastiklaerermedet i Stockholm 1895; her 
meddelt i en noget udvidet Skikkelse)." In Vor Ungdom (periodical, 
Copenhagen), 1895, pp. 465-512. 

2. Joakim Larsen, article "Nachtegall" in C. F. Bricka's "Dansk 
Biografisk Lexikon," volume XII (Copenhagen, 1898). 

3. Joakim Larsen, "Gymnastikundervisningens Indferelse i vore 
Folkeskoler for 100 Aar siden." In Gymnastisk Selskabs Aarsskrift 1913- 
1914 (Copenhagen, 1914), pp. 5-28. 

4. K. A. Knudsen, article "Gymnastik" in "Salmonsens store 
illustrerede Konversationsleksikon," volume VIII (Copenhagen, 1898). 

5. K. A. Knudsen, "Gymnastikken i Danmark i hundrede Aar 1814- 
1914." Foredrag ved de baltiske Lege i Malmo 1914. Copenhagen, 1914. 

6. Jens Bergmann, "HaerensGymnastikskoleogSkolegymnastikken." 
In Gymnastisk Selskabs Aarsskrift 1904. 

7. Illeris og Trap, "Grundtraek af Gymnastikkens Historic" (Copen- 
hagen, 1909), pp. 72-79. 

fHe was born December 11, 1797, at Viborg, in Jutland, son of Captain 
Niels and Georgia Nicoline (March) la Cour. Entered the military 
academy as cadet in 1810, in 1813 was made second lieutenant in the 
Schleswig infantry regiment, 1816-1818 served with the Danish contin- 
gent in France, and in 1824 became first lieutenant. In 1829 appointed 
inspecting officer (Inspektionsofficer) and teacher at det kongelige mili- 
t&re gymnastiske Institut, and in 1833 teacher with Landkadetkorpset also. 
In 1834 promoted to the rank of captain and with the help of a grant from 
the King undertook a journey to Germany and France, to make himself 
familiar with the instruction in gymnastics given in those countries. 
In 1842-1867 was director of det kongelige militare gymnastiske Institut, 
and 1847-1870 director of gymnastics (Gymnastikdirekter) in Denmark. 
In 1855 was made colonel. Died December 21, 1876. Sources: Article 
"la Cour, Niels Georg," in C. F. Bricka's "Dansk Biografisk Lexikon," 
volume IV (Copenhagen, 1890), and also the following: Knudsen 1898 and 
1914, Bergraann 1904, and Illeris og Trap 1909 (pp. 149-151) as above, 
under Nachtegall; and "Dansk Idrsets Litteratur gennem tre Aarhun- 
dreder (1606-1914): En Bibliografisk Oversigt Udgivet af Dansk Idraets- 
Forbund ved J. Weinberg" (Copenhagen, 1916. Part of Dansk Idraets- 
Forbunds "Aarsberetning 1915"). 


Military Institute he published a new manual for the army,* 
upon which was based his later manual for the elementary 
schools.! But interest was now at low ebb. Beginning: in 1859 
it came to be the practice to supply the need of teachers of gym- 
nastics in the Seminarier by "loaning" them non-commissioned 
officers for a term of three years. (This continued to be the 
rule till 1901!) In the schools of Copenhagen, also, and in gar- 
rison towns, such instruction was in the hands of military men. 
But in the army the broad educational aims of gymnastics had 
been subordinated to mere attainment of skill, so that the soldier 
too often regarded it with dread as a means of discipline and 
punishment. These officers, too, held themselves aloof from the 
general school life and from the other teachers. When la Cour, 
who possessed more energy than tact and lacked Nachtegall's 
conciliatory manner, called attention to neglect or defective 
equipment revealed by his tours of inspection, and when official 
circulars directed the school authorities to exercise a keener and 
more vigorous oversight, the result in many cases was to 
arouse a feeling of irritation and indignation. In 1859-1860J 
it was proposed and voted in the lower house of the Rigsdag (na- 
tional parliament) that boards of education be allowed to discon- 
tinue instruction in gymnastics for a time when the local school 
authorities deemed the step desirable. The upper house, how- 
ever, refused to concur. 

Upon la Cour's retirement from the position of Gymnastikdi- 
rektpr in 1870 this office was abolished, and a new one was cre- 
ated that of inspector of gymnastics (Gymnastikinspekt^r) for 
civil schools only. But there was no actual separation from 
military control, for until 1904 it was the army which supplied 
candidates for the place. The first man to fill it (1870-1886) 
was Col. Johann Theodor Wegener (1810-1886). He chose for 
his assistant Captain (later Lieut. Col.) Julius Amsinck (1833- 
1902), director of Harens Gymnastikskole 1867-1885, who later 

*"Reglement for Undervisningen i Gymnastik i den danske Arme." 
Copenhagen, 1852. 240 pages, illustrated. 

f'Laerebog i Gymnastik for Borger- og Almueskoler." Copenhagen, 
1856(1855?). 112 pages, illustrated. Second edition 1860. There was also 
a "Tillaeg til Laerebog i Gymnastik for Borger- og Almueskolerne. " 
Copenhagen, 1869. 38 pages. 

J1858, according to Knudsen 1914, p. 12. 


became his successor (1886-1899).* Amsinck published in 1883 
a manual for school use.f based on that of la Cour. 

Nearly thirty years after Nachtegall's attempt (1838 and 1839) 
to introduce gymnastics into schools for girls and to train women 
teachers in the subject, attention was again directed to the im- 
portance of such efforts by Professor A. G. Drachmann, Dr. 
med., who with another physician, Professor Schiedte, had 
opened an institute for medical gymnastics and orthopedics in 
Copenhagen. He believed that the exercises of girls should be 
quite different from those used with boys, and followed Napoleon 
Laisne as a guide, J making much of aesthetic movements and 
using wooden rings (Traeringe) and wands with movable balls on 
them (Stave med bevsegelige Kugler). He also trained teachers, 
and secured positions for them in some of the private schools in 
the city. His daughter Erna taught in Frk. Natalie Zahle's 

*Amsinck was born June 30, 1833, at Horsens in Jutland, son of Captain 
(of horse), later Lieutenant Col. H. Amsinck, descended from a Dutch 
family. At the age of thirteen he became cadet (for five years) at the 
military academy (Landkadetakademi), in 1851 second lieutenant of 
infantry, and after training in the horse guards (Gardekavalleri) entered 
det kongelige militare gymnastiske Institut in 1854 and completed the 
course with distinction two years later, remaining there as teacher and 
Inspektionsofficer (he received a permanent appointment in 1866). He 
took part in the war with Germany in 1864 as first lieutenant of infantry. 
In 1867 was made chef of Hcerens Gymnastikskole (the new name for the 
Institut), and in 1870 captain and chef, retiring when he reached the age 
limit (52) in 1885. Published "Gymnastikreglement," Nyborg 1869 and 
1880(1882?). Was also teacher of gymnastics, fencing, and swimming at 
the naval academy (Sekadet-Akademi) 1858-1869, and 1868-1886 at the 
Officerskole of the army and assistant to the Gymnastikinspekter . In 1878 
visited Sweden and saw gymnastics taught in the schools, Seminarier, 
and Stockholm Ccntralinstitut ', and was present at the second general 
Swedish Turnfest, in Gothenburg May 3. He was commissioned lieu- 
tenant colonel in 1886 and the same year appointed Gytnnastikinspekttr 
in the ministry of church and school affairs. He entered upon his duties 
as latter January 1, 1887. A sketch of his life, based on material 
furnished by Joakim Larsen, is given by Carl Euler in the "Encyklopa- 
disches Handbuch des gesamten Turnwesens," vol. I, pp. 15 and 16. 

f'Laerebog i Gymnastik for Skoler og civile Lsereanstalter i Danmark. ' ' 
Copenhagen, 1883. 252 pages, illustrated. Second edition, Copenhagen, 

tLaisne's "Gymnastique des demoiselles a 1'usage des 6coles normales, 
des lyces et colleges de jeunes filles, des pensions et des ecoles" was 
published in Paris in 1851. 


school.* Rewrote "Om vore Pigeberns fysiske Opdragelse" 
(Copenhagen, 1867. 40 pages, illustrated), and" Gymnastik for 
den kvindelige Ungdom" (Copenhagen, 1869. 121 pages, il- 
lustrated) . 

A similar work, but much more extensive and successful, 
was that of Krigsassessor (military judge) Paul Petersenf in the 
years between 1870 and his death in 1906. He began his teach- 
ing of gymnastics in a small private school for girls in Copen - 
hagen in September of 1870. With no particular physiolog- 
ical or pedagogical foundation and no principles underlying the 
choice and arrangement of exercises except their external form he 
made use of the oldNachtegall gymnastics, but combined with this 
exercises selected from German, French, and especially Swedish 
sources, and christened the result "Den danske Kvindegymnas- 
tik." He sought to develop agility and strength by exercises 
on apparatus, but also emphasized the aesthetic, employed music 
in exercises like the German Reigen, and made much of dancing. 
By 1897 a total of 167 women had completed his two-years teach- 
ers' course, and its length was later increased to two and a half 
years. The Copenhagen Kommuneskoler (board- or communal 
schools) began to introduce the system in 1886. After his death 
his daughter continued the work of the Petersen Institut for 
Kvindegymnastik. \ 

*In 1884, then Fru Eraa Juel-Hansen, she opened in Copenhagen an 
"Institut for Kvindegymnastik," which became a rival of Paul Petersen's 
and employed the Ling system. 

fFor Drachmann and Petersen consult: Knudsen 1898 and Illeris og 
Trap 1909 (pp. 152, 155 and 156), as above, under Nachtegall, and also 
K. A. Lange's "Den Lingske Gymnastik i Danmark 1884-1909" (Copen- 
hagen, 1909), pp. 10 and 98-101; and Petersen in "Beretning om det 
skandinaviske Gymnastiklaererselskabs femte almindelige Mede i Keben- 
havn den 12.-14. August 1899" (Copenhagen, 1902), pp. 84-90. 

^According to Weinberg 1916 (as above, under la Cour), Petersen wrote: 

1. "200 0velser i Trapez for begge Kjen" (Copenhagen, 1882. 
37 pages). 

2. "Danse-Album" (Copenhagen, 1884. 62 pages). 

3. "Daglig Hjemmegymnastik for Kvinder og Msend" (Copenhagen, 
1891. 30 pages, illustrated). 

4. "Gymnastik-System I-II" (Copenhagen, 1893-1895. 396 pages). 

5. "Den danske Kvindegymnastik" (Copenhagen, 1901. 591 pages, 

August 13, 1899, he spoke on "Kvindegymnastik" at the Scandinavian 


After the war of 1864 with Prussia and Austria, in which the 
Danes lost Schleswig-Holstein and Lauenburg, there was a 
period of great depression, soon followed, however, by a variety 
of measures looking toward national regeneration. In two 
institutions which date from this time, the rifle clubs {Skyttefor- 
eninger} and the people's or folk high schools (Folkehvjskolerne) , 
gymnastics was among the means employed, as it had been in 
Germany by Jahn and his followers a half-century before . For 
some years before the outbreak of the war the attitude of Ger- 
many in the Schleswig-Holstein dispute had been growing more 
and more threatening, and in January, 1861, an artillery captain, 
Valdemar Menster, proposed in the columns of the Danish paper 
Fegdrelandet the organization of voluntary clubs on the plan of 
the English National Rifle Association,* in order that young men 
subject to military service might have opportunity to become 
familiar with the use of weapons and fit themselves to defend 
the country's rights by force of arms. The suggestion met with 
general approval, and a few months later a Central Committee, 
with Captain Menster as its secretary, was formed to guide and 
assist the rifle clubs which were being started all over Denmark.! 
By the close of 1863 there were over a hundred of them in exist- 

At first the Skytteforeninger confined their attention to rifle 
shooting and military drill, but after the war had given great 

Gymnastikl&rerselskabs fifth general convention, in Copenhagen (see 
"Beretning . . . 1902," pp. 84-90). 
After his death were published: 

6. "Den danske Kvindegymnastik. 1000 frie Ovelser i 100 Serier" 
(Copenhagen, 1907. 104 pages). 

7. "Den danske Kvindegymnastik" (Copenhagen, 1910. 536 pages, 

*This was formed in 1860, "for the encouragement of rifle corps and 
the promotion of rifle shooting throughout Great Britain," and "to make 
the rifle what the bow was in the days of the Plantagenets, the familiar 
weapon of those who stand forth in the defence of their country." 
(Encyclopaedia Britannica, llth edition, xxiii: 334.) 

fPor the history of the Rifle Clubs consult Lieut. Col. Peter Rarasin g's 
"Gymnastiken i de danske Skytteforeninger," published in the "Beret- 
ning om det skandinaviske Gymnastiklaererselskabs femte almindelige 
Made i Kebenhavn den 12. -14. August 1899" (Copenhagen, 1902), pp. 48- 
73; and Kristen A. Lange's "Den Lingske Gymnastik i Danmark 1884- 
1909" (Copenhagen, 1909), pp. 60-87. 


headway to the whole movement gymnastics began to be intro- 
duced as a related activity, and gradually won for itself a more 
and more prominent place. A firmer organization had now 
been effected, for the smaller clubs, whose number had in- 
creased to several hundred, united into county rifle clubs (Amts- 
Skytteforeninger. Denmark is divided for administrative pur- 
poses into eighteen counties or Amter), and in 1871 the original 
Central Committee was succeeded by a Board of Directors 
(Ovtrbestyrelse) chosen by representatives of the various units. 
According to information gathered by the new Overbestyrelse , 
eleven clubs practiced gymnastics in 1872, and nine of these 
had 2100 members actively engaged, of whom 763 belonged 
in Svendborg county alone, where the efficient leadership and 
persevering efforts of Captain Edvard Nielsen had contributed 
largely toward such a favorable showing and had made that 
club a model for others. 

The exercises were necessarily limited at the start to what 
could be done in the open air and with little or no apparatus, 
or use was made of barns or rooms for public gatherings. In 
1871, at Ryslinge (island of Funen), the first special fdvelseshus 
(house for exercise, gymnasium) was erected. Other places 
were quick to follow the example, so that by 1897 there were 
nearly 300 such buildings, provided by the club members them- 
selves, and in them 10,000 young countrymen were practicing 
gymnastics. Trained instructors could be borrowed from the 
army in garrison towns and the regions adjacent to them, or 
school teachers were employed or men who had returned from 
military service. Many clubs, in order to secure better quali- 
fied squad leaders, organized brief teachers' courses (Instruk- 
tionsmeder) in charge of army instructors. When various 
people's high schools, notably those at Askov and Vallekilde, 
opened their doors for such leaders' courses (Delingsfererkur- 
sus) in gymnastics they became an important source of supply. 
The first course of this kind at Vallekilde was given in 1878. 
A handbook of gymnastics ("Vejledning i Gymnastik") pre- 
pared for the rifle clubs by ff&rens Gymnastikskole in 1882, at 
the instance of the Overbestyrelse, does not appear to have been 
widely used, but Captain Amsinck's manual of 1883 was made 
the basis of instruction. 

At the general Skyttefest (gathering of rifle clubs for competi- 


tive shooting) in 1869 at Horsens the Svendborg county club, 
the university club from Copenhagen, and others gave exhibi- 
tions of gymnastics which must have contributed toward its 
spread, and this was still more true of the general Gymnastikfest 
at Svendborg in 1878 and the general Skytte- og Gymnastikfest at 
Nyborg in 1881, both of them arranged by the Svendborg county 
rifle club. At the former there were nearly 1100 participants, 
who came from 16 towns and 110 country parishes. Six hun- 
dred were from Svendborg county alone. County and lesser 
Skyttefester exerted a similar influence. Advantage was taken 
of the interest thus aroused to seek state aid for the purchase 
of apparatus. Captain Edvard Nielsen proposed such a measure 
at the meeting of delegates in 1879, and a motion requesting 
the Overbestyrelse to take suitable steps led to an initial annual 
grant of 2000 Kr. from the government, increased to 5000 Kr. 
in 1882 and to 6000 Kr. the following year. Attempts to obtain 
similar grants to assist in the erection of 0velseshuse and the 
giving of courses of instruction for squad leaders (Delings- 
ferere) met with no success at this time. 

The people's or folk high schools (Folkehpjskoler) * like the 
rifle clubs, date from before the Schleswig-Holstein war of 
1864; t but their great popularity and rapid spread began with 
the period of reform which succeeded it. They are not public 
institutions, though nearly all now receive a certain amount of 

'Sources: "Le Danemark. Etat actuel de sa civilisation et de son 
organisation sociale. Ouvrage publi6 a 1'occasion de 1'exposition uni- 
verselle de Paris 1900 par J. Carlsen, H. Olrik, C.-N. Starcke" (Copen- 
hagen, 1900), pp. 180-190; Harold W. Foght, "The Educational System 
of Rural Denmark" (U. S. Bureau of Education Bulletin 1913, No. 53. 
Washington, 1914); L. L. Friend, "The Folk High School of Denmark" 
(U. S. Bureau of Education Bulletin 1914, No. 5. Washington, 1914); 
and Kristen A. Lange's "Den Lingske Gymnastik i Danmark 1884-1909" 
(Copenhagen, 1909), pp. 14 and following. 

fThe father of the idea was Nikolai Frederik Severin Grundtvig (1783- 
1872). The first people's high school was started in 1844 at Rodding, 
about twelve miles east and a little north of Ribe. Christian Flor (1792- 
1872) gave up his professorship in the university of Kiel to become its 
director. In 1864 it was moved across the border to Askov, north of the 
Konge Aa and midway between Ribe and Kolding. Others followed at 
Uldum (1848) and Oddensee (1851) in Jutland, Hindholm in Zealand (1852), 
and Dalum in Fiinen (1851; founded by Kristen Kold). The first people's 
high school in Sweden was opened in 1868, at Hvilan in Skane. 


government aid, but are privately owned in most cases, or be- 
long" to a self -perpetuating corporation, and depend for their 
success upon the personality of the director and his associates. 
The total number opened in the years 1844-1911 was 143, and 
80 of these were in existence at the close of the period. The 
great majority of the students are young countrymen 18 to 25 
years of age, who after completing the required course at free 
rural elementary schools, where attendance is compulsory for 
children 7 to 14 years of age, have been engaged in practical 
agriculture and household duties, either at home or on some 
model farm. The attendance in the years 1864-1884 averaged 
about 3000 annually, but doubled in the following decade, and 
in the school year 1898-1899 reached a total of 3491 young men 
and 2646 young women. In 1906 the numbers at the different 
high schools ranged from 10 to 400; 53 per cent of the pupils 
were males, and it was estimated that a third of the young peo- 
ple among the rural population passed through these schools, 
although attendance is altogether voluntary. A few are co- 
educational, but the usual plan is to offer a winter course of 
five to six months (November-May) to young men, and a 
summer one of three months or more to young women. An 
hour a day is allotted to gymnastics as a rule. 

The people's high schools and the rifle clubs have stood in 
close relation with each other, some of the former organizing 
clubs of their own, or supplying leaders for neighboring clubs,* 
and others, like the ones at Askov and Vallekilde, arranging 
for teachers' courses in gymnastics and rifle-shooting under 
professional instructors from the army. The aims of the two 
institutions are similar in many ways. Although the people's 
high schools all give instruction in handwork and household 
economics for women and many offer courses in agriculture, 
horticulture, masonry, carpentry, etc., their chief purpose is 
cultural to mold character and ideals, inspire patriotism, train 
the students to think for themselves, reveal the dignity and 

*Andreas Bentsen, of the Vallekilde high school, was president of 
Holbaek county rifle club for many years and in 1885 became a member 
of the Overbestyrelse for de danske Skytteforeninger; Poul la Cour, of 
Askov high school, was president of the Ribe county club, and also 
became a member of the Overbestyrelse; Dr. J. Nerregaard, of Testrup 
high school, was president of the Aarhus county club. 


possibilities of country life, and lay the foundation for later 
work in local agricultural schools and schools of household 
economics. The lecture method prevails in the classroom. 
Courses in history and literature may be considered the back- 
bone of the curriculum, with frequent discussion periods and 
much singing of folk and patriotic songs and hymns. Students 
room in the school dormitories, and are thus brought into close 
and sympathetic association with each other and with their teach- 
ers, the foundation of that spirit of cooperation which is so 
characteristic of rural life in Denmark today. 

The revival of general interest in physical education in Den- 
mark had its origin thus among young- adults, and not in the 
schools. At first it was the GutsMuths gymnastics as developed 
by Nachtegall which they practiced in the rifle clubs and the peo- 
ple's high schools, with the gradual addition of exercises bor- 
rowed from the Jahn Turnen; but beginning in 1884 the Ling 
or Swedish system was introduced, and made rapid headway 
until by the close of the century it had been generally adopted 
in the people's high schools, had outstripped its Danish-German 
rival in the rifle clubs, and formed the basis of a new official 
manual for the schools.* In the summer of 1880 41 members 
of the Stockholm Gymnastic Club (Stockholms Gymnastikforen- 
ing) had visited London and Brussels, and on their return, at 
the invitation of the Copenhagen Gymnastic Club (Kjeben- 
havns Gymnastikforening) , stopped in the city. They were 
met at the station by Captain Amsinck, director of Htzrens 
Gymnastikskole, who had made the acquaintance of some of them 

*For the history of the Ling gymnastics in Denmark consult: Ramsing 
1899 (as above, under rifle clubs); Knudsen 1914 (as above, under Nachte- 
gall), pp. 12-30; Kristen A. Lange's "Den Lingske Gymnastik i Danmark 
1884-1909" (Copenhagen, 1909); Kare Teilmann's "Den Lingske Gym- 
nastik i Danmark," in Gymnastisk Selskabs Aarsskrift 1913-1914 (Copen- 
hagen, 1914), pp. 94-142; "Haandbog i Gymnastik" (Copenhagen, 1899); 
Prof. K. Kroman, "Den nye danske Skolegymnastik," in "Beretning om 
det skandinaviske Gymnastiklsererselskabs femte almindelige Mede i 
Kebenhavn den 12. -14. August 1899" (Copenhagen, 1902), pp. 20-30 (see 
also pp. 31-40); "Die Leibespflege in Danemark: Bericht iiber eine 
einjahrige Studien-reise von Turnlehrer Otto Plaumann (Beilage zu dem 
Jahresbericht des Reform-Realgymnasium zu Kiel." Kiel, 1910. 48 
pages); "Leibesubungen in Danemark: Bericht fiber eine einjahrige 
Studien-Reise von J. B. Masiiger, Turnlehrer an der Kantonsschule 
in Chur" (Chur, 1912. 104 pages). 


during: his trip to Sweden in 1878, and on the twenty-third of 
August gave an exhibition of fencing; and gymnastics, under 
the leadership of Lieutenant Viktor Balck, in the gymnasium 
of the Officersskole (Frederiksberg Palace, Roskildevej), fol- 
lowed by members of the Copenhagen club.* This first view 
of Swedish gymnastics attracted considerable attention at the 
time, but the effects, if any, seem to have been purely local. 

Much more significant was the visit to Stockholm by two 
teachers at the Vallekildef people's high school, Andreas Bent- 
sen and Niels Hansen Rasmussen,t on the occasion of the fourth 
general Swedish Turnfest, held April 28 and 29, 1882. Clubs 
from Upsala and Lund universities, Malmo, Gothenburg, and 
Stockholm were represented, and there were also present two 
delegations from Norway (about 30 members of the Christiania 
Turnforening and a group of 19 university students) and one 
from Finland (the Helsingfors Gymnastikklubb) . Both Bentsen 
and Rasmussen had been active in introducing gymnastics in 
Danish rifle clubs, and the former was president of the Holbaek 
county club, which paid his expenses for this journey. They 
were much impressed with the carriage and bodily development 
of the Swedish gymnasts, the beauty of their exercises, and the 

*Consult "Minnen fran Stockholms Gymnastikforenings Resa 4-25 
August! 1880, hemforda och sammanfattade af Elis Erik" (Stockholm, 
1880. 86 pages), pp. 65-69 and 80-82. 

fVallekilde is in northwestern Zealand, west and a little north of 

\Bentsen received his training as a teacher in Blaagaards Seminariurn 
in Copenhagen, where Ernst Trier (1837-1893) was one of his teachers, 
and when the latter started the Vallekilde high school (1865) became one 
of his first assistants, teaching the pupils architectural drawing in 
connection with their industrial training and later becoming the head of 
an independent, but affiliated, trade school. Rasmussen was born Sep- 
tember 27, 1854, at Vairemosegaard, near Odense, took his entrance 
examination to the polytechnic school in Copenhagen in 1872 and finished 
the course (Cand. polyt.) in 1880, and had been Bentsen's assistant at 
Vallekilde since the latter year. As a student he had practiced gym- 
nastics in the Copenhagen Skytteforen ing, and in the Copenhagen Gym- 
nastikforening, which he helped to organize in 1877. Ten years later he 
opened his own Gymnastikinstitut in that city. 

^Consult L. M. Torngren, "Gymnastikfesten i Stockholm v&ren 1882," 
in Tidskrift i Gymnastik 1: 1037-1044. The precise date is given in Euler's 
"Encyklopadisches Handbuch des gesamten Turnwesens" 1:320. 


light, clean gymnasium halls with their rich equipment of 
apparatus. Rasmussen, himself an ardent gymnast, deter- 
mined to make himself acquainted with the Ling system and 
obtained permission to take part in the exercises at the Stock- 
holm Centralinstitut for four months in the fall and early win- 
ter of 1883. He afterwards returned (1885-1887) to complete the 
full two-year course. In letters to friends he urged the need 
of a new gymnasium (0velseshus, Gymnastikhus) at Valle- 
kilde. The idea met with favor, work was begun at once, and 
January 6, 1884, the building was first used, with Rasmussen 
as teacher of the new gymnastics. The formal opening oc- 
curred on February 25,* in the presence of 700 to 800 persons, 
among them the director of Harens Gymnastikskole (Captain 
Amsinck), two members of the rifle clubs' Overbestyrelse , a 
group of university students from Copenhagen (K. A. Knud- 
sen was one of them), and Poul la Cour, a teacher at the 
Askov people's high school. Fifty-six pupils gave a demon- 
stration of a Swedish "day's order," under Rasmussen's direc- 
tion, and there was also an exhibition of the GutsMuths- 
Nachtegall gymnastics by 28 participants in a three-weeks 
Delingsfyrerkursus which had just been held at the Vallekilde 
high school. 

Director Trier was so favorably impressed by the Ling sys- 
tem that he wished to introduce it in the summer course for 
women also, and for this purpose, through a friend in Stock- 
holm, he secured the services of a Swedish woman, Sally Hog- 
strom, who was graduated from the Centralinstitut in 1883 and 
had since been assistant in medical gymnastics there. She 
had 182 pupils that first year at Vallekilde, and closed the sea- 
son's work with an exhibition. During the same summer Bent- 
sen built a gymnasium at Hvilan, in Skine, for the oldest 
people's high school in Sweden. Its director, Dr. Holmstrom, 
had visited Vallekilde with some of his pupils and been moved 
by what he saw there to include gymnastics in his own curricu- 
lum. When the building was ready there was a formal opening 
at which Rasmussen led a group of Vallekilde students in an 
exhibition of their exercises Danish young men under a Danish 

Consult Captain Carl Silow, "Gymnastiksalen och de gymnastiska 
ofningarna vid Vallekilde folkhogskola i Danmark," in Tidskrift i Gynt- 
tiastik II: 383-389. 


teacher demonstrating: the Ling- system at a Swedish school! In 
the audience was the instructor in gymnastics at Lund univer- 
sity, Captain Carl Norlander (1846-1916; graduated from the 
Stockholm Centralinstitut in 1870), who made the acquaintance 
of Bentsen and Rasmussen on this occasion, and received from 
them an invitation to come to Vallekilde with some of his stu- 
dents. There had already been a joint exhibition of gymnastics 
by university students from Copenhagen* and Lund at the lat- 
ter city, on April 19, and a return meeting had been agreed 
upon. This gave Captain Norlander an opportunity to accept 
the invitation, and on the twenty-eighth of March in the follow- 
ing year (1885) he appeared at Vallekilde with 28 young men. 
They watched the exercises of the high school pupils under 
Rasmussen, and themselves gave an exhibition of gymnastics 
and fencing, after which Captain Norlander delivered an ad- 
dress on the aim and method of the Ling system. This was 
translated into Danish by Rasmussen, printed in Hpjskolebladet, 
and widely circulated in the form of an illustrated reprint, t 
Two days later came the second joint exhibition of students from 
the two universities, in Copenhagen, where Norlander again 
gave an address, replying to criticisms of Swedish gymnastics 
which had appeared in Danish papers. 

Froken Hogstrom was back in Vallekilde again for the sum- 
mer course of 1885, and this time, besides her regular teaching 
with 160 pupils, took charge of a little group of women who 
wished to fit themselves as leaders. One of them, Charlotte 
Bonnevie, was the first Danish woman to complete the course 
at the Stockholm Centralinstitut, in 1887, and that same year 
became teacher of gymnastics in Freken Natalie Zahle's school 
in Copenhagen. Another, Director Trier's daughter Ingeborg, 
took over the direction of gymnastics for women at the Valle- 
kilde high school in 1886, beginning May 3, the first Danish wo- 
man teacher of the Ling system, and continued in this position 
till her death in 1904. One of her successors was Signe, 
daughter of Andreas Bentsen. 

*About twenty members of the akademisk Skytteforening under two 
non-commissioned officers. See "Svensk-Dansk Student-Gymnastik- 
uppvisning i Lund den 19 April 1884," in Tidskrift i Gymnastik II: 159- 

f'Kort Redegerelse for den svenske Gymnastik." Kolding, 1885. 
48 pages. 


In the winter of 1884-1885 a second people's high school 
introduced the Swedish system. Poul la Cour (1846-1908), 
teacher of mathematics and physics at Askov from 1878 till his 
death, and a notable and very popular speaker and writer, had 
been present at the formal opening of the Vallekilde gymna- 
sium, and this led to the appointment of one of Rasmussen's 
best pupils as leader of the new exercises in the Askov school. 
La Cour, who saw the need of better trained teachers, next per- 
suaded Captain Norlander to conduct a special two-months 
course of instruction in Lund, which was accordingly given 
September 5 to November 9, 1885, to a group of twelve Danish 
men.* La Cour himself was one of the number, and afterwards 
did much to make the Ling system widely and favorably known, 
especially in the people's high schools and rifle clubs. An- 
other was a young university student from Copenhagen, Knud 
Anton Knudsen,t sent over by .the akademisk Skytteforening. 
These two roomed in a house which Ling had himself occupied 
while he was fencing master in Lund (1804-1813). Of the rest, 
Hans Jergen Rasmussen at once succeeded Niels Rasmussen at 
the Vallekilde high school (the latter left for Stockholm in the 
autumn of 1885 to take a complete course at the Centralinstitut) , 
and held the position till his death in 1893; Jergen Rasmussen 
(he afterwards added the name Kirkebjerg), from Lemvig in 
northwestern Jutland, after bringing the Ling gymnastics to 
rifle clubs in that vicinity in the winter of 1885-1886, entered 
upon a long career as teacher of gymnastics and sloyd at 
the Askov high school in 1886; from Askov came also another 
teacher, besides la Cour, and the son of Ludwig Schrader, the 
director of the school; and three more were teachers in the 
people's high schools at Mellerup and Testrup, in Jutland, and 
Vejstrup in Fiinen. 

At la Cour's invitation Captain Norlander and 26 students 
from Lund paid a second visit to Denmark in the interest of 
the Ling gymnastics in March, 1886, and this time spent a day 
(the 8th) at Askov. There was an exhibition of exercises by 
pupils in the people's high school, by 41 men who were taking 

*See "Svensk Gymnastik i Danmark," by la Cour and Norlander, in 
Tidskrifti Gymnastik II: 366-372. 

fBorn at Orte, island of Fiinen, August 21, 1864, and graduated from 
the Latin school in Odense in 1883. 


a leaders' course there, and by the visitors, who also demon- 
strated the Swedish system at Kolding the day before and at 
Odense on the 9th.* It was to Askov also that Sally Hog- 
strom came in the summer of 1886, as teacher of gymnastics in 
the course for young women. July 22 she gave an exhibi- 
tion of her work before about forty invited guests physicians 
and interested men from the rifle clubs, and another in August 
while a meeting of teachers was in session at the high school. 
The director's daughter, Ingeborg Schroder, was so impressed 
with Froken Hog-strom's instruction that she went to Stock- 
holm for a course at the Centralinstitut, graduating in 1889, and 
she then became the regular teacher of gymnastics at the 
Askov high school. 

The Swedish system, starting- thus at Vallekilde and Askov 
and with the "Norlander twelve," now began to spread to other 
people's high, schools, till nearly all of them had adopted it, 
and thence it reached the rifle clubs, partly through teachers 
at the high schools and by means of special leaders' courses 
which they organized for the purpose, partly through the 
efforts of former pupils who had become familiar with it there . 
At an exhibition arranged by the Svendborg county rifle club 
in 1887, 18 districts out of the 31 represented practiced the Ling 
gymnastics. The next year at a Fest in Ryslinge (Fiinen) 
this was true of two thirds of the districts, and of three fourths 
at another Fest in the same place in 1891. According to re- 
ports received by the Overbestyrelse of the Danish rifle clubs there 
were in 1892, in the whole country, 3069 members taking part 
in the Danish-German gymnastics and 3142 following the Swed- 
ish system. In 1898 the corresponding figures were 4325 and 
5167. Ten years later there were about 20,000 men, 8000 
women, and 5000 boys practicing the Ling gymnastics. In 
1899 the clubs which used the old Danish-German exercises, 
chiefly city clubs, organized the Dansk Gymnastikforbund, which 
in 1911 numbered about 5000 members, including women and 
children. Between 1889 and 1898, in courses arranged by 
the Overbestyrelse, 579 leaders were trained in the Ling gym- 

*Captain Norlander was in Askov again November 19 of the following 
year. See his "En dag i Askov," in Tidskrift i Gymnastik II: 671-673, 
and Poul la Cour's address on that occasion, pp. 633-641. 


nasties, and by 1908 the number had increased to 2178.* At 
first a single four- weeks course was offered, but in 1894 it began 
to be the practice to give each year two courses of four weeks 
each, one for beginners and one for advanced pupils, and to 
give certificates only in case both had been successfully com- 

It was not to be expected that the friends of the GutsMuths- 
Nachtegall gymnastics would watch the encroachments of the 
foreign system without a vigorous protest. The struggle began 
as early as 1885, with army officers almost without exception 
opposed to the innovation, and a few years later was at its height. 
The attention of school authorities was drawn to the subject by 
conflicting claims put forward in the press and by what the fol- 
lowers of Ling were already accomplishing in Denmark, and 
some of them recognized that with the help of the new exercises 
school gymnastics might perhaps be resuscitated, especially in 
the country, where conditions were quite unsatisfactory. In 
Copenhagen K. A. Knudsen, after his return from the two 
months in Lund in the autumn of 1885, became teacher of the 
Swedish system in H. Gregersen's school on 0rstedsvej. Two 
years later N. H. Rasmussen came back from his course at the 
Stockholm Centralinstitut and opened a private gymnasium of 
his own.f Meanwhile other schools had followed the example 
of Gregersen's, e.g., Emil Slomann's Latin- og Realskole and 
a school for girls in Frederiksberg, in 1886. Skoledirektyr Joa- 
kim Larsen, Skoleinspektyr Jens Bergmann, and Otto Jensen, 
superintendent of Opfostringshuset, visited Lund to learn more 
of the Swedish system, and this led to discussions in the Peda- 

Lange 1909 (p. 72) gives the figures for 1889-1908 as follows: 
Askov people's high school, 12 courses, 721 participants. 
Vallekilde " " "11 " 697 
Ryslinge " " 6 " 301 

Hadsten " " 6 " 373 " 

Levring " " 1 course, 30 

Rasmussen's Instilut 3 courses, 56 

Total 39 " 2178 " 

fHe first used the new gymnasium built for Gregersen's school in the 
summer of 1887, moved in 1889 to the one at Emil Slomann's school on 
Jacob Dannefaerds Vej, in 1897 to the new hall at Blaagaard Seminarium, 
and in 1898 to his own Gymnastikhus at 51 Vodroffs Vej, opened October 
8 of that year. 


gogical Society (Padagogisk Selskad] early in 1887. At the in- 
vitation of this body Professor S. Ribbing of Lund university 
came over to present the claims of the Ling" gymnastics, accom- 
panied by Captain Norlander and four students, who gave a 
demonstration of the exercises and their effects. 

The most important result of all this agitation was the ap- 
pointment (April 5, 1887) of a commission of three by the min- 
istry of church and school affairs (Ministeriet for Kirke- og 
Undervisningsvaesenet) , to recommend improvements in gym- 
nastics as taught in the schools and to present plans for the 
founding and organizing of an institution in which men and wo- 
men should be trained as teachers of gymnastics. Its members 
were Lieutenant Colonel Amsinck, the new state inspector of 
gymnastics, chairman, communal physician (Kommunelaege) 
Axel Hertel, and Professor K. Kroman. They spent several 
weeks in Stockholm, at the Centralinstitut and in the schools, 
and then went to Berlin for a similar purpose. Upon their re- 
turn they submitted a report (April, 1888) containing a number 
of definite suggestions for the better organization of physical 
education, the training of teachers, and the grouping of exercises 
in a lesson plan. They also proposed the appointment of a 
second and larger commission which should prepare a new man- 
ual of school gymnastics along the lines indicated. This 
body was accordingly named November 30, 1889. It included 
the former members, with the addition of Kommunelage Chr. 
Fenger, regimental surgeon (Korpslaege) Johan Kier, Cand. 
polyt. N. H. Rasmussen, and the head of Hcsrens Gymnastik- 
skole, Captain L. V. Schleppegrell. The result of their labors 
was the "Handbook of Gymnastics" (ffaanddog i Gymnastik) 
published in 1899* and at once authorized by the government 
for use in all schools under its control. The new manual 
follows the general principles of the Ling gymnastics and 
adopts practically all of the Swedish exercises, but uses also 
many of the forms already current in Denmark, and introduces 
exercises on the horizontal and parallel bars, flying rings, and 
trapeze along with others which require the apparatus com- 
monly found in gymnasia in Sweden. 

The commission of 1887 had proposed that the government 
should start an institution for the training of men and women 

*Copenhagen, J. Frimodt. xvi-j-476 pages, 153 figures in the text. 


as teachers of gymnastics (Gymnastisk Laereranstalt) , with a 
two-years course of study and practice. But in view of the un- 
settled condition of the whole question the authorities were un- 
willing: to take such action. Professor Hans Olrik, director of 
the State Teachers' Course (Statens etaarige Laererkursus, later 
known as the Laererhejskole) , then suggested, in 1897, that in- 
struction in gymnastics be included as a separate division in 
that course. The government gave its approval to the plan, 
the Rigsdag voted the necessary funds, 13,500 Kr., and on 
March 30, 1898, an official announcement of the organization 
and character of the new course (det etaarige Gymnastikkur- 
sus) was published. It was opened September 1 of that year 
in N. H. Rasmussen's Gymnastikhus on Vodroffs Vej, under 
the direction of Cand. theol. K. A. Knudsen.* The next year 
(1899) Amsinck retired from his position as state inspector of 
gymnastics. His successor, Lieutenant Colonel Ramsing,f 
already over sixty years old when he was appointed to the 
office, died August 18, 1904, and now, for the first time in the 
history of the inspectorship, it was given (September 2) to a 

*He had completed his theological studies in Copenhagen in 1889, and 
the two-years course at the Stockholm Ceniralinstitut in 1891, taught in 
the Ryslinge (Fiinen) people's high school 1891-1895 (and during this 
time was active in spreading the Ling gymnastics in the Svendborg and 
Odense county rifle clubs), and besides practicing medical gymnastics 
had been connected with Freken Natalie Zahle's school and the 
Rasmussen gymnasium in Copenhagen 1895-1898. 

fPeter Erhard Marius Ramsing was born December 23, 1837, in 
Ansager parsonage and grew up in the country. After attending a 
Latinskole he passed his matriculation examination (Studentereksamen) 
and studied theology until 1859, when he decided upon a military career. 
He received his first commission as an officer in 1861, took part in the 
war of 1864, and afterwards as first lieutenant was attached to the 
technical division of the General Staff, becoming teacher at the Skyde- 
skole (shooting school) and later at the Officersskole. In 1879 he was 
appointed captain and head of the Skydeskole and 1887-1902 was chairman 
of Skytteforeninqernes Overbestyrelse. He was raised to the rank of 
lieutenant colonel in 1894, and upon his retirement from military service 
in 1902 received the title of colonel. From April 1, 1902, till his death, 
August 18, 1904, he was president of the Gymnastisk Selskab, organized 
in Copenhagen August 22, 1899, by friends of the Ling gymnastics. 
He rendered invaluable service during the period of transition from the 
older gymnastics to the new. 


non-military man, K. A. Knudsen, the director of the one- 
year teachers' course.* 

The training school for civilian teachers of gymnastics (det 
civile gymnastiske Lsererinstitut) founded in 1808, and the 
normal school of gymnastics (Normalskole for Gymnastikken) 
opened twenty years later were both short-lived and both had 
been appendages of det militare gymnastiske Inslitut; since 1859 
the teachers of gymnastics in the Seminarier had been non-com- 
missioned officers in the army, assigned to this duty for three- 
year periods only; and though the non-military schools were 
given a state inspector of their own in 1870, this position had 
always been held by an army officer. But with det etaarige 
Gymnastikkursus of 1898-1899, the Haandbog of 1899, and the 
appointment of Knudsen to the state inspectorship in 1904 gym- 
nastics in the Danish schools entered upon an independent ca- 
reer. This fact was made plain by a new school law (1899) 
which prescribed, among other things, that no one should be 
regularly employed as teacher in the public schools unless he had 
received professional training in a Seminarium.\ The nur- Turn- 
lehrer was thus to give place to the auch- Tumlehrer, an integral 

*Inspector Knudsen has written the following, all of them published in 
Copenhagen, "i Hovedkommission hos J. Frimodt": 

1. "Grundssetninger for Gymnastikundervisning." 1897. Fourth edi- 
tion (112 pages) 1908. 

2. "Ovelselaere. Forklaring af typiske gymnastiske Ovelser. " 1900. 
Fourth revised edition (160 pages) 1911. 

3. "Timesedler til Brug ved Gymnastikundervisning for mandlige 
Elever." 1900. Fourth edition (50 pages) 1912. 

4. "Timesedler til Brug ved Gymnastikundervisning for kvindelige 
Elever." 1900. Fifth edition (36 pages) 1912. 

5. With Sigrid Nutzhorn, "Legemsevelser for Pigeskolen, ordnede 
efter Skoleaar. " Udgivet med Understettelse fra Ministeriet for Kirke- 
og Undervisningsvaesenet. 1913. 283 pages. 

6. "Laerebog i Gymnastik for Seminarierne. " 1916. 371 pages, 
illustrated with 204 figures in the text. 

(There were in Denmark in 1917 four state Seminarier and twelve 
private ones. The state schools, all for men and all located in the 
country, are the Blaagaard Seminarium (founded in 1790 in Copenhagen, 
but in 1809 moved to Jonstrup, about twelve miles away from the capital) 
and those at Skaarup (Fiinen), Jelling (south Jutland), and Ranum (north 
Jutland). Of the private schools, all but two of them in towns or cities, 
four are for men only, four for women, and four for both sexes. The 
regular course in a Seminarium covers three years. 


part of the teaching- staff, and payment for instruction in gym- 
nastics was to be at the same rate as for any other subject in 
the curriculum. It was therefore chiefly Seminarian-trained. 
teachers, both men and women, who attended the one-year 
course, and from 1901 onward examinations based on the 
Haandbog of 1899 were given to all candidates for graduation 
at the 16 Seminarier .* 

In the higher (secondary) schools also gymnastics was to be 
taken out of the hands of special or professional teachers and 
entrusted to instructors who give a part of their time to other 
subjects. University graduates already occupying 1 positions in 
such schools and university students who looked forward to teach- 
ing as a profession were therefore found among the pupils in 
the one-year course, and in 1905 the government decided to per- 
mit the work of that course to be spread over three or four years 
in the case of students who wished to complete it at the same 
time they were carrying on their studies in the university. 
During the years 1898-1911 (13 courses) a total of 169 men and 
229 women were graduated from det etaarige Gymnastikkursus. 
Of this number 93 men and 39 women had already won their 
teachers' certificates, and 30 were university trained. April 1, 
1911, the one-year course ceased to be a part of Statens Larerhvj- 
skole, and September 1, 1911, under anew name and as an inde- 
pendent institution (Statens Gymnastik Institut) , it moved into 
a building of its own.f Two years before this (November 1, 
1909) the authorities of the university at Copenhagen had added 
to the faculty of that institution, on a six-year appointment, a 
Decent in anatomy, physiology, and theory of gymnastics (Jo- 
hannes Lindhard, a physician), under whose direction students 

*For the later history of physical education in the Danish schools 
consult Knudsen in "Salmonsens store illustrerede Konversationsleksi- 
kon," vol. xix (Copenhagen, 1911), pp. 631-634; his "Gymnastikken i 
Danmark i hundrede Aar 1814-1914" (Copenhagen, 1914), and "Beretning 
om Statens Kursus i Gymnastik og ora Gymnastikkens Tilstand i de 
danske Skoler i 1911" (Copenhagen, 1912); Decent J. Lindhard, "Akade- 
miske Gymnastiklaerere," in Gymnastisk Selskabs Aarsskrift 1912, pp. 
169-177; and Kristen A. Lange, "Den Lingske Gymnastik i Danmark 
1884-1909" (Copenhagen, 1909). 

{Temporary quarters, on rented land in a corner of the University Ball 
Club's grounds (Akademisk Boldklubs Bane), out Tagensvej near the 
corner of Jagtvej. 


who desired to add instruction in gymnastics to other teaching 
after graduation were allowed to take one of their minor courses 
in preparation for the final examination (Skoleembedseksamen) 
leading to a degree, and so qualifying them to become candidates 
for positions in higher schools. The instruction in practical 
gymnastics and games was to be given at Statens Gymnastik- 
Institut, or under the oversight of its director, and was to be 
at least equal to that given in the one-year course. 

The demand for teachers trained in the Haandbog of 1899 
could not be met by graduates from these more extended and 
thorough courses of preparation, however. For men and women 
already employed in the schools who could not afford to leave 
their regular duties the state therefore arranged short vacation 
courses of four weeks each. Thirty- four attended the first one of 
these, given in Copenhagen in 1899. The next year it was de- 
cided to move them out into the country, to Seminarier and 
Folkehpjskoler, and the numbers rose at once to 200. Between 
1900 and 1911 the work thus offered was completed by 1027 men 
and 1680 women an average attendance of 225. In 1913 it 
reached 349.* Still briefer courses, of a single week's duration 
(Instruktionskursus), brought a measure of preparation to older 
teachers who were unable to leave their homes, and these were 
often attended by the same persons for several years in succes- 
sion. Two thousand five hundred and twenty-six men and 519 
women were enrolled in them in the years 1901-1911. The total 
number of teachers trained in the newer gymnastics, in the state 
one-year course, the university, the 16 Seminarier, and the 
longer and shorter vacation courses reaches therefore well into 
the thousands, and to these should be added the other thousands 
who have attended the month-long leaders' courses (Delings- 
fererkursus) arranged by the rifle clubs or their Overbeslyrelse 
since 1889. 

The Danes have not been the only ones to profit by the agen- 
cies just enumerated. Up to 1911 the one-year course had 
been taken by 15 foreigners (4 men and 11 women), from Nor- 
way, Finland, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Eng- 

*In the years 1900-1908 such courses were given at the Seminarier in 
Jonstrup, Jellinge, Vordingborg, Silkeborg, and Haslev; at people's high 
schools in Frederiksborg, Ubberup, Sore, Ryslinge, Vestbirk, and Askov; 
and at agricultural schools in Tune, Dalum, and Ladelund. 


land, and America; and 49 foreigners (25 men and 24 women) 
had completed vacation courses. At the invitation of York- 
shire school authorities Gymnastikinspektyr Knudsen conducted 
a special vacation course for English teachers at Scarborough 
in 1905, and two graduates of the one-year course, H. G. Jun- 
ker and H. P. Langkilde,* were afterwards employed to train 
teachers in the schools of West Riding, Yorkshire. Langkilde 
was engaged by the British ministry of war in 1906 to introduce 
the Ling gymnastics in the army gymnasium at Aldershot.f 
Two other graduates of the one-year course, Braae-Hansen (in 
1908, as director) and Fr0ken P. Brandt (in 1909), were in- 
stalled as instructors in state-supported training schools for men 
and women teachers in gymnastics, organized at the South- 
western Polytechnic Institute in London. In 1908 Junker began 
to give one-month courses for English teachers at Silkeborg, in 
Denmark, which have been largely attended by both men and 
women (more than 80 in each of the years 1910 and 1911), and 
in 1910 he opened in the same place a one-year course for Eng- 
lishmen. Danish women have also served as teachers of gym- 
nastics at various English teachers' colleges and in the schools 
of that country. 

/ The school code of 1814 had made practice in gymnastics ob- 
ligatory, in the case of boys, at all elementary schools (Folke- 
skoler), whether town or country. A law of 1904 extended its 
provisions to include girls, as well; and within six years of that 
date more than 95 per cent of the girls in town and city elemen- 
tary schools and nearly 50 per cent of those in the country were 
receiving such instruction. Lack of suitable rooms was the 
greatest difficulty which confronted the country schools. To 
meet this condition the Rigsdag voted that beginning with April 
1, 1907, the state should bear one half of the expense (up to 
15,000 Kr.) incurred by any community in building a gymna- 
sium (Gymnastikhus) for its schools. Two years later the grant 
was increased, so as to include town schools, and made to cover 

*Junker in the winter months of 1906-1907, 1907-1908, and 1909-1910, 
and Langkilde November-March, 1911-1912. Beginning October 1, 1912, 
the latter entered upon a three-year appointment as chief inspector and 
organizer of physical training in West Riding. 

fSee his "Gymnastikken i den engelske Haer," in Gymnastisk Selskabs 
Aarsskrift 1908, pages 39-57. 


the cost of providing: playgrounds also. It became necessary 
to withhold state aid after April 1, 1911, on account of financial 
stringency, but up to that time nearly 300 gymnasia had been 
erected in the country regions, at an average cost of about 5000 
Kr. By the following year (1912) 488 country schools had gym- 
nasia of their own, and 559 others were using 1 rented gymnasia, 
usually those which belonged to rifle clubs. The other two 
thirds of the 3500 or more country schools were obliged to con- 
tent themselves with exercise out of doors on the playgrounds, 
which are gradually being equipped with such gymnastic appa- 
ratus as stall bars, Swedish horizontal bars, bucks, vaulting 
boxes, etc. 

Not content with merely providing facilities for physical ed- 
ucation, the Rigs dag also appropriated funds sufficient for the 
appointment of 17 Gymnastikkonsulenter (14 men and 3 women, 
most of them trained in the one-year course) or assistants to 
the state inspector of gymnastics, who are able to visit nearly 
900 schools a year, arousing interest in teachers, pupils, and 
parents, demonstrating the proper handling of a class, meeting 
the teachers for conference and suggestions, and in general 
working for a better understanding of the object and means of 
physical education and greater uniformity in methods. A step 
which has done much to improve the standing of gymnastics in 
higher schools was the decision to grade pupils on their work in 
this subject, in connection with twc of their public examinations 
(the Mellemskoleeksamen, since 1907, and Realeksamen, since 
1908, but not yet in the final or Studentereksamen) , and to give 
to such a grade (Aarskarakter) equal value with those secured in 
any other branch of study or practice. 

Starting thus among young adults in the people's high schools 
and rifle clubs, the newer gymnastics has made its way into the 
elementary schools and the Seminarifr and thence into the 
higher schools and the university. In contrast with what one 
sees in Sweden, the instruction is almost wholly in the hands 
of civilians, regular members of the teaching staff who give 
only a portion of their time to this branch; the average number 
of pupils in a class is only about 30, instead of the 150 or even 
200 sometimes led by a single teacher across the Sound; and 
the rooms provided for exercise are smaller and more numer- 
ous so frequently two for a single school that this may be con- 


sidered the rule. On the other hand the Danish teacher re- 
ceives at most a ten-months course of special training:, in 
contrast with the two years usually spent at the Stockholm 

It is now more than a hundred years since Denmark made 
gymnastics an essential part of the curriculum of its public 
schools, antedating Prussia in the step by over a quarter of a 
century; but her German neighbor, on the other hand, takes 
precedence in the matter of systematic efforts to foster games 
among school children. Minister von Gossler's playground 
order was issued in 1882, fourteen years before its Danish coun- 
terpart, and the German "Central Committee for the Promotion 
of Games," formed in Berlin in 1891, was six years old before 
a corresponding body was organized in Copenhagen . The be- 
ginnings of the movement, in each country, reveal the influence 
of English customs, and the ball games of the English 
schoolboy were among the first forms introduced. In certain 
of the higher schools of Denmark, particularly in boarding 
schools located in the country, open-air games were already 
firmly established when in 1891 the Copenhagen Playground 
Association (Legepladsforening) first undertook to bring them 
within the reach of children in public elementary schools 
(Folkeskoler) , by opening playgrounds in various sections of 
the city and organizing the play-life there. This attempt sud- 
denly took on national proportions when Wilhelm Barden- 
fleth,* Minister of Church and School Affairs, on August 31, 
1896, sent out his "Circular to all school authorities regarding 
the introduction and regular use of games for children in the 
public schools. "f 

*Bardenfleth was born in Copenhagen July 18, 1850. He prepared for 
the university in Borgerdydskolen and completed his law course in 1874, 
became assistant (1879) and later head clerk (Fuldnuzgtig, 1889) in the 
ministry of the interior, and August 7, 1894, was appointed Minister for 
Kirke- og Undervisningsvasenet. From May 23, 1897, till August 28, 1899, 
he served as Minister of the Interior (Indenrigsminister), and upon his 
retirement from this position was made Anttmand (principal civil officer) 
of Vejle county. 

f'Circulsere til samtlige Skoledirektioner om Indferelse af ordnede 
Lege for Folkeskolens Bern." The circular is given in full in the 
appendix to the first report (Ferste Beretning, 1897-1899) of Udvalgetfor 
danskf SkoUberm F&lleslege (Copenhagen, 1899). 


Games which require agility and strength, the Minister said, 
deserve a place side by side with formal gymnastics, not only 
as healthful forms of recreation, but because they train the 
players to make decisions promptly and carry them out ener- 
getically, rouse a feeling of responsibility, require subordination 
and cooperation, and play a large part in the development of 
personality. Hitherto this valuable educational agency, which 
supplements, but should not replace, gymnastics, has been left 
too much to the initiative of the young themselves and the results 
have been largely a matter of chance. School authorities should 
make it their business to provide playgrounds of sufficient size 
and conveniently located. Teachers must interest themselves 
in the matter, joining the pupils in their sports, preserving 
order, and supplying the necessary supervision and direction, 
and a place ought to be found in the curriculum for such activi- 
ties, in addition to voluntary practice outside of school hours . 
The Minister announces his readiness to render assistance in 
furthering the movement, by including the subject of organized 
play in the annual vacation courses for teachers. Attention is 
called to a list of books containing directions for a variety of 
games. The Commission of 1889, appointed to work out a new 
manual of gymnastics, was also preparing a brief guide to the 
use of appropriate games,* and this, it was hoped, could be 
sent out to all public and private schools. 

On December 1, 1896, three months after the appearance of 
the Bardenfleth circular, the Copenhagen Playground Associa- 
tion proposed to the ministry an annual grant from state funds 
to be used in making it effective, and offered to form a commit- 
tee which should undertake to manage the practical details of 
the project. The suggestion was approved, the Rigsdag voted 
an appropriation of 5000 Kr. a year for three years, and the 
expenditure of the fund was entrusted to a group of men and 
women from all parts of the country who met in Copenhagen 
April 11, 1897, at the invitation of the Playground Association, 
and constituted themselves a National Committee for Promoting 

*"Lege, Boldspil og anden Idraet. Kort Vejledning til Brug for Skoler 
udarbejdet af Gymnastikkommission." Copenhagen, 1897. 119 pages. 
The same material, somewhat modified, is contained on pp. 275-404 of 
the "Haandbog i Gymnastik" of 1899. 


Group Games among School Children.* The original member- 
ship included Fru Rigmor Bendix, Copenhagen, chairman; 
school principal Emil Slomann, Frederiksberg, vice-chairman; 
wholesale merchant Carl H. Melchior, Copenhagen, treasurer; 
Dr. med. H. Forchhammer, Copenhagen, secretary; district 
physician Axel Hertel, Copenhagen, and school director Joakim 
Larsen, Frederiksberg, additional members of the executive 
committee; and fifteen other persons residing in various parts 
of Denmark, among them Professor Poul la Cour of the Askov 
people's high school, and Cand. theol. K. A. Knudsen, then 
living in Frederiksberg. 

The regulations adopted at the time of organization have 
governed the operations of the Committee ever since. They 
define its object as the furtherance of group games in the open 
air. Among the means employed are lectures and the distribu- 
tion of pamphlets explaining its work, guidance in the use of 
games, the training of teachers, grants of money to help in pro- 
curing apparatus and hiring teachers, and assistance in securing 
and equipping playgrounds. As a rule it is expected that in each 
case the community concerned, or private individuals, will pro- 
vide an amount equal to that furnished by the Committee from 
the funds placed at its disposal. The Committee also reserves 
the right to supervise activities toward which it contributes, 
and to require annual reports regarding them; but local organ- 
izations are independent in matters of detail. The Committee 
is a self-perpetuating body, which chooses its own chairman, 
vice-chairman, secretary, treasurer, and two auditors (Revi- 
sorer) and appoints from its membership an executive commit- 
tee, whose duties it prescribes. The financial year extends 
from April 1 till March 31. At least once a year, near the end 
of May, the entire Committee meets in Copenhagen to hear 
the report of the executive committee, receive the audited ac- 
counts, determine plans for the coming year, and attend to the 
election of officers. 

The last report (1914) showed 16 of the original members of 
the National Committee still serving, and six new members 

*Udvalget for 'danske Skolebtrns Feelleslege. The Committee, whose 
headquarters are in Copenhagen, at Holsteinsgade II 2 , has issued six 
reports, covering respectively the years 1897-1899, 1899-1902, 1902-1905, 
1905-1908, 1908-1911, and 1911-1914. 


in place of four removed by death and one whose resignation 
had been accepted. Gymnastikinspektpr K. A. Knudsen was 
now a member of the executive committee. Lieutenant Colonel 
Harald Axel Hilarius-Kalkau, head of Hcerens Gymnastikskole 
1892-1902, became vice-chairman of the Committee in 1902 and 
later its chairman. Dr. Forchhammer felt obliged to give up 
his work as paid secretary in December of 1898, and was suc- 
ceeded by Gymnasielarer Fr. Knudsen, who has filled the posi- 
tion ever since. The original state grant of 5000 Kr. a year 
was increased to 7500 Kr. in 1906 and to 12,000 Kr. in 1909. 
Three years later it was reduced to 4000 Kr. , but raised to 6000 
Kr. for 1913-1914 and 1914-1915. The Committee does not so- 
licit contributions outside of this grant, although it has a small 
income from other sources. Effort has been largely centered, 
from the start, on two lines of work, the preparation of teachers 
to act as play leaders in the schools, and the furnishing of ex- 
pert advice and direct assistance in particular cases where 
these are requested. 

Minister Bardenfleth, in his circular of 1896, had offered to 
include instruction and practice in group games in the annual 
vacation courses for teachers conducted by the state. Special 
courses of this sort, under the direction of the secretary of the 
National Committee, were therefore provided for men in the 
summers of 1897-1900, and for women in 1898 and 1899, and 
the subject of games was added to the vacation course in gym- 
nastics for women in 1897 and 1898. The Committee also grave 
financial aid to a portion of the teachers who had undertaken 
the work without g-overnment assistance. Since the fall of 
1898 group games have been taken up as a regular part of the 
state's one-year course in gymnastics. In the spring of 1897 
and again in 1898 the Committee offered short courses of its 
own for women teachers, especially those in the Copenhagen 
schools. With its help group games were made a part of va- 
rious teachers' courses organized primarily for other purposes, 
e.g., the ones given by the Danish Friskoleforening (Free 
School Society) at Frederiksborg high school in 1897 and 
Vallekilde high school in 1898, Jergen Rasmussen's course in 
sloyd at Askov in August of 1898, and the leaders' course 
(Delingsf0rerkursus) arranged by the Rifle Clubs at Valle- 
kilde in October, 1898. Later the Committee organized spe- 


cial three-weeks courses for men at Askov 1899-1901, Aarhus 
1902, Odense 1903, and Copenhagen 1904 (total attendance 
544) ; for women at Copenhagen 1900, 1901, and 1904, Odense 
1901, and Vejle 1902 (total attendance 103); term-time courses 
for women in Copenhagen 1905-1907 (total attendance 42); 
and beginning and repetition vacation courses for men (1905- 
1907) and later for both sexes (1908-1913), in Copenhagen, 
Fredericia, and Aalborg. 

The usual length of the special courses has been three weeks. 
Men have devoted four or five hours daily to the work, or a 
total of 80 to 90 hours, and most of it has been practical, with 
chief emphasis on the more complicated games, such as Lang- 
bold (a Danish-Norwegian ball game), cricket, football, and 
hockey. The aim has been to give a complete understanding 
of the theory of each game, and enough practice in it to make 
the teacher a capable guide for his pupils. Not much time has 
been allotted to the simpler games. In the early courses for 
women instruction was more elementary, and limited at first to 
a total of 18 to 24 hours, since most of the participants were 
quite unused to strenuous bodily exercise. Langbold was the 
favorite game, but later football was found to be excellent for 
young girls up to the age of puberty, and hockey after that 
period. The amount of time given to daily practice was also 
increased, until it reached 3 or 4 hours, and the total advanced 
from between 30 and 35 hours to between 50 and 60. Hockey 
steadily gained in popularity, but children's games received 
relatively more attention than was the case in courses for men . 
Fr. Knudsen, secretary of the National Committee, has published 
a handbook of games, a guide to hockey, and with Ahrent 
Otterstrem a football manual.* 

The demands upon the National Committee in its other field 
of effort, the giving of expert advice and direct assistance in 
particular cases, have been numerous and constant from the 

*1. "Dansk Legebog. Af Fr. Knudsen, Sekretaer i Udvalget for 
danske Skoleberns Faelleslege." Copenhagen, 1915. 

2. "Hockey. Udgivet af Udvalget for danske Skoleberns Faelleslege 
ved Fr. Knudsen, Udvalgets Sekretser." Copenhagen, 1903; second edi- 
tion, 1907. 

3. "Laerebog i Fodboldspillet, af Fr. Knudsen og Ahrent Otterstrem. " 
Copenhagen, 1909. 


start. In 1897 help was given to 43 schools or communities; 
64 others were added to the list the following year, and 120 in 
the period 1890-1901, and since that time the additions have 
averaged about 25 a year, so that by the end of 1913 a total of 
532 had received aid. The needs of public elementary schools 
(Folkeskoler) have naturally been the first to receive attention, 
but a few Realskoler and Hvjskoler in the provinces are included 
in the number. Experience demonstrated the importance of 
competent oversight, and since April 1, 1901, assistance has 
been granted in new cases only when a professionally trained 
teacher of gymnastics is employed, or a graduate of one 
of the state or Committee courses in group games. Tours of 
inspection are made by the secretary of the National Committee, 
who visited 387 schools or communities in the years 1900-1913. 
Other trips were made to give advice or help in the laying out 
of playgrounds. Commonly the Committee first suggests the 
games which seem most appropriate in the locality concerned, 
and then sends on the necessary apparatus (for ball games, 
exclusively) , except such as can be bought on the spot without 
much expense. A sum of money to be used in procuring or 
improving playgrounds is sometimes added; but the original idea 
of providing compensation for teachers has not been carried out. 


Los Angeles 
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DEC 4 





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Syrocuia, N. Y. 
Stockton. Calif.